Archive for the ‘Banking’ Category

With summer in full swing, the banking and finance industry is not taking a vacation as it continues to find ways to leverage new technology and satisfy customers. Below are three emerging trends in the industry to watch as we continue to move through the second half of 2016.




     1. Refreshing Customer Experience

Creating an effective customer experience strategy is not a new topic for the banking and finance industry. As new technology develops, banks may adopt new customer-centric practices or opt to redesign its customer experience strategy entirely. Simplicity, efficiency, and responsiveness are three key principals that drive effective customer experience. Best practices show successful organizations carry these three principals through all facets of the brand. Additionally, the brand’s customer experience should yield the same results both online and offline (e.g. customer services reached via a mobile application versus over the phone). This creates a streamlined effort among the organization as a whole, which sets the brand up to appeal to a wide variety of consumers. To ensure success, organizations must evaluate its strategy and presence to meet the needs of consumers.

     2. Expanding Mobile Payments

As the demand for fast and simple digital solutions rise, many consumers are turning to mobile payment services (also known as digital wallets). Currently, there are a variety of providers in the market ranging from well-known technology industry leaders (e.g., Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Wallet, etc.) and others that primarily focus on digital payments (e.g., PayPal, Venmo, etc.). These types of mobile payment services provide a digital means for transferring money rather than using the traditional cash or check. Since the process is easy and at your fingertips, advocates for mobile payments suggest that it’s the ideal way to transfer funds. Although there are still user concerns regarding security, digital payments continue to show advancement both in the industry and the mind of consumers.

     3. Leveraging Big Data

While the term may still seem intimidating to many companies, big data is more commonly being used by banks and financial institutions to learn more about its customers, as well as the brand itself. Many companies are collecting massive amounts of user/customer data, but are unsure of how to use it. Digging into big data may point to gaps in service offerings, identify key customer demographics, or lead to deeper consumer insights. As consumers’ expectations rise, it will be important for banks to use big data to set actionable strategies to compete.

All of the trends above have an impact on the customer experience. To remain competitive in the marketplace, many banks and financial organizations are seeking assistance from researchers to inform strategic initiates which will deliver a cutting-edge customer experience. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development and Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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As consumers become more hyper-connected, industries are feeling the continual push to adapt in today’s digital revolution. When it comes to creating optimal customer service, the banking and finance industry has the opportunity to leverage new mobile technology. Before joining a bank, many customers assess the organization’s website, mobile, social media, and overall digital presence as well as current banking rates (APRs). Below are three customer experience trends in the banking and finance industry.




  1. Find the best way to share

Previously, banks thought the idea of omnichannel would allow them to communicate with consumers effectively. Omnichannel is the sharing of messages through multiple channels. The idea here is that people prefer to communicate through different mediums. Therefore, banks should give consumers the ability to reach customer service representatives through a preferred medium (e.g., in person, over the phone, on social media, through a website, etc.). However, not all messages are received similarly over different mediums, which could potentially create detrimental issues for your brand (i.e. customers likely will have different expectations for resolving customer service on Twitter as they do via phone, online, and in-person). Through this evolution, the use of an optichannel became the new standard. Optichannel is the delivery of a message through the best channel. Organizations should determine the best channel for providing customers with the brand information they desire. To ensure an optimal customer experience, organizations should ask customers about their channel preferences for the various messages they may receive from the brand.

  1. Digital payments are in your future

As the number of consumers that make at least one payment via their mobile phone each week rises, digital payments through an online website and a mobile app are becoming a must have for banks and credit unions. Not only must these services be available, but they must be personalized and easy to use. For example, some customers may prefer to make regularly scheduled credit card payments, while others pay their balance in full each month. In addition to providing individualized payment options, the process must be streamlined, easy to use, and it must work. For example if mobile check deposit is available, it should be simple for customers to select the amount being deposited, take a picture of the physical check, and receive a confirmation that the deposit to their account was made.

  1. Blockchain technology

Somewhat known as new technology underpinning bitcoin, blockchain is emerging and could revolutionize the way the banking and finance industry is currently doing business. Instead of relying on a paper trail to tell the digital truth, blockchain technology relies on computer-based algorithms. Records are kept on multiple computers that are isolated, meaning that attempting to falsify a record is nearly impossible. This allows companies to keep transparent and fool-proof records. This means tracking financial agreements, money, and banking/financial communication could be made simpler, faster, and more reliable, which is top of mind for consumers.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development and Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.

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retail banking

Over the years, branch usage and face-to-face transactions have decreased in frequency at financial institutions.  Alternate banking channels have become more convenient, familiar, and rich in features.  Consumers are turning to ATMs, Kiosks, Mobile, and Online to conduct transactions that in the past they may have gone to a branch for.  A study conducted by FMSI found a 45% decrease in average monthly branch transactions between 1992 and 2013, and this trend has been accelerating since 2007.  This ultimately leads to fewer personalized touch points for interacting with customers, and increases the risk of customers viewing their financial institution as more of a commodity, and less of a comprehensive source for their financial needs.  As a result, it is becoming increasingly important for retail banking institutions to take a consultative approach with customers and members.  This is an opportunity for financial institutions to differentiate themselves from competitors by providing a unique, personalized service and establishing their organization as a full-service, primary financial institution.

Emphasizing the importance of branch and live representative phone transactions, and taking a consultative approach with customers has many advantages.

  • Increase share-of-wallet and revenue.  Financial service representatives should be trained to learn about customers, ask the right questions, and identify appropriate cross-selling opportunities.  A financial institution establishing itself as the customer’s primary institution will help grow overall operating revenue as customers use more of that institution’s products.
  • Establish competitive advantages.  At the present time, financial institutions may find that developing a relationship with customers through a consultative approach is a unique selling proposition in their market.  Delivering a personalized experience to help customers find the products that best suit their needs and providing them with financial consultation will help an institution position itself ahead of the competition in the customer’s eyes.
  • Increase customer retention and loyalty. Developing a relationship with customers, and being the place customers turn for all financial services will ultimately improve customer retention.  The most critical phases in establishing customer relationships typically occur either in-person or over the phone.  A Gallup study found that customers prefer interacting in person at a branch for opening an account, applying for a loan, or seeking financial advice.  The study also found when reporting a problem, or inquiring about a fee, customers prefer to use a branch or interact with a live person over the phone.  Taking the time to coach customers with opening an account, or solving a problem will certainly have a long lasting influence on customer loyalty.

Market research is a tool that can be utilized by financial institutions to understand customer needs and identify areas of opportunity.  Customer and market area insights make it easier to effectively consult with customers and tailor products and services to their needs.

  • Identify the needs of customers, as well as the needs of the primary market area.  An image and awareness study conducted with the general public will provide insight on the market’s awareness of financial institutions, and perception of service offerings.  It can also further examine products and services individuals are using, and identify the needs of the market.   Another option is a customer satisfaction study, conducted among customers to provide insight into customer needs, and satisfaction with the services offered.
  • Identify competitive offerings in market. Competitive assessment studies identify competing financial institutions, along with details of the products and services they offer.  This allows financial institutions to adjust their messages, offerings, and customer experience to ensure they maintain their position in the market place and are able to exceed competitive offerings and services by tailoring the customer experience.
  • Mystery shopping studies.  Financial institutions conduct mystery shops as either ongoing studies, or in waves throughout the year.  Keeping an eye on the customer experience helps institutions measure the effectiveness of employee training.  Mystery shopping can also identify opportunities through understanding the true customer experience.  Mystery shoppers will report on how personalized their experience was, and if their experience aligns with the approach representatives are expected to deliver.

Market research can assist financial institutions with offering a consultative approach and improving customer engagement.  Focusing on the consultative approach will help banks and credit unions build life-long relationships with customers and remain relevant and top-of-mind when customers need financial products and services.  If you would like to learn more about conducting market research studies for banks and credit unions, please contact Sandy Baker, Sr. Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at 1-866-567-5422 or by e-mail at SandyB@RMSresults.com.

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Banking User Experience

Over the past decade, the frequency of online banking usage has grown. A study conducted by Pew Research in 2013 found that 51% of US adults bank online.  Additionally, a 2014 study by the Federal Reserve found that 51% of smart phone owners have used mobile banking in the past 12 months. Customers have come to expect online and mobile banking solutions from their institution.  Simply offering online and mobile banking solutions is not enough; there is a growing expectation for the applications to be intuitive and allow the user to have a top-notch experience.

The user experience with online banking channels is becoming a vital factor in the customer process for choosing a primary financial institution. The banking user experience should be frustration-free, with a design that doesn’t require significant thought or training. Online banking solutions should allow customers to quickly learn how to interact with the solution and accomplish their task. According to a Novantas study, nearly half (43%) of users who use digital banking channels log into the mobile application and online banking portal at least weekly. For optimal customer satisfaction, it will be important for banking institutions to provide a seamless and consistent experience, in addition to delivering a good user experience for online channels.

While most people connect to their bank’s online portal to simply view their current balance or transfer money between accounts, many individuals also expect more features to be available.  This is quickly becoming the norm as institutions innovate and offer new features such as remote check deposit, viewing their budgets, having automated financial advice, and being able to quickly transfer money to other individuals. Being able to accomplish all of your banking tasks with an online or mobile application is a growing part of the user experience.

The usage and importance of these banking channels is anticipated to expand, along with elevated expectations for a satisfactory user experience. It’s increasingly important for financial institutions to understand how their users interact with these channels and learn more about their preferences, frustrations, and satisfactions with the current offerings. Market research can be used to address these issues and provide valuable insight to the operations team at your financial institution. Here are a few examples of banking experience studies that Research & Marketing Strategies has conducted for clients:

  1. Satisfaction & Usage Studies – An all-encompassing satisfaction and usage survey will help your institution understand how customers are interacting with your banking channels, determine their usage preferences, and provide satisfaction data regarding these channels. Conducting a quantitative study of this caliber will allow you to understand your institution’s customers and guide strategic planning.
  2. Usability Testing Studies – Conducting a study to interview users as they utilize your website or application is a great way to understand user experience from a typical customer’s perspective.  The customer will walk through the website and application, and vocalize their experiences.  This is a great way to identify potential frustrations and opportunities for improvement to the digital customer experience.   This “in-the-moment” methodology will provide the vision needed to deliver an enjoyable user experience for your customers.
  3. Follow Up Experience Surveys Follow-up surveys are something we employ for a variety of projects and industries.  Contacting users either online or through telephone  shortly after they interact with a channel, or have an experience with your business is a great way to obtain fresh, top-of-mind feedback.  In banking, this is a good opportunity to monitor customer satisfaction and identify potential issues.

If you have questions about Banking User Experience research or would like to learn more about our banking research services, please contact Sandy Baker, Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

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